1 - What to wear
2 - What to bring
3 - How to go to Mt. Pinatubo
4 - Start of the Pinatubo tour
5 - The 4x4 vehicle ride
6 - The old way vs the Skyway
7 - The hike
8 - The crater lake
9 - Activities at the crater lake:
A - Swimming (unavailable)
B - Boat ride (unavailable)
10 - Post-Pinatubo trek activities
11 - Spend overnight at the base camp

1 -

What to wear in Mt. Pinatubo


What to bring for your trek


3 -

How to go to Mt. Pinatubo

Mt. Pinatubo is located at the boundary of 3 provinces: Tarlac, Pampanga and Zambales,  almost 150 kilometers north of Manila. There is no direct public transportation to go the the base camp, that's why a package tour is convenient. The ride from Manila will take around 3 hours using the North Luzon Expressway and SCTEX.;


Start of the Pinatubo tour

A Mt. Pinatubo trek always begins at the base camp, 28 kilometers from the crater lake. Here, you will be assigned a local guide and a 4x4 vehicle. Currently, there are 200 Pinatubo local guides and more than 100 units of 4x4 vehicles ready to bring you to the next level of outdoor adventure. Arriving early at the base camp is important as the guides and 4x4 vehicles get booked really fast especially on weekends and on peak season (Philippine summer and holidays). That's one of the reasons why we usually have to leave Manila around 2am or Pampamga before 4am. Make sure to bring some food and enough water with you since you will be back to the base camp only on the early afternoon and there is no restaurant/shop on the mountain.

The 4x4 vehicle ride
The 4x4 ride takes about an hour and thirty minutes and will cross wide terrains of ashland and some massive lahar canyons. 4x4 vehicles are mostly open and all of them are non-airconditioned so expect to get really dusty and, if it rains, wet and dirty.

the 4X4 vehicles

Extra caution must be taken by those who have asthma as the dust can trigger reactions. As there are no seat belts, we encourage you to hold the vehicle bars really well as the ride is very bumpy.
All the drivers are skilled and experienced on crossing these canyons so there is no fear that your vehicle will topple over. They also use a buddy system which means that no 4x4 can leave the base camp without a support vehicle. All drivers are required to bring a 2-way radio on top of their personal phone with them.
Each 4x4 vehicle can a certain number of people. If you have booked a public tour, expect to share the 4x4 with other participants.

The 4x4 ride

Stops and Photo-ops
There is a stopover along the way before you reach the jump-off to make time for some up-close appreciation of the landscape. You will probably notice the Aetas. The Aetas are believed to be the original inhabitants of the Philippines long before the Spanish came. They are short, dark-skinned and kinky-haired.
Aeta children

Skyway vs Old way vs New Way.
A few years ago there was a shorter route, aka "Skyway", called as such because it was towering over the canyons and the valley. The Pinatubo skyway was heavily damaged during the 2011 rainy season and is now closed.
The skyway before it became non-passable

The regular route is also called the "old way". It has 5 to 7 kilometers of amazing trail and the trek lasts one hour thirty to two hours through Crow valley canyon (one way)
The start of the Pinatubo trek via Old way

A shorter hike, called the "new way" has been created on February 2013 and it use to be available on summer only but it now not passable.


The hike

Considered a minor hike, the trek is a 1:30 to 2 hours walk (one way) using the old way. It means you will be walking around 4 hours that day. A fast hiker can finish it in 3 hours though.

trekking Mt. Pinatubo using the old way involves crossing  some rivers

There are some small stream crossings so choose carefully the shoes you will use for your Mount Pinatubo trek. Closed shoes will protect your feet but will be wet after the trek. Trekking sandals are the best alternative. Crocs-type of shoes is also a good choice.

Local guides have always been ready to assist you (photo taken on the old way)

There also times where you will by some lush vegetation – a stark contrast on the barren field that you crossed a few hours ago with the 4x4 vehicle. So not forget to bring enough water (around 2 liters per person) at it gets usually very hot on the trail.

trekking Mount Pinatubo: The forest

Pinatubo crater lake
Arguably, the Pinatubo crater lake is THE highlight of your Pinatubo trek. With its changing color water inviting you to check its refreshing water, it's easy to see why a lot of people are enticed on seeing its beauty. Not too long ago that same crater lake was very acidic (average pH level =2) and hot (average temperature = 40 degrees Celsius). But nature has its own way of turning a thing of destruction into an object of beauty. And this lake has had its share of admirers from here and abroad. The water in the crater lake is from precipitation.
The caldera was formed by the eruption of the mountain which displaced its pre-eruption summit about 1km northward of the site. The crater lake is about 2 kilometers wide, is 600-800 meters deep and has a surface area of about 1.8 square kilometers.

pinatubo bushwalking
The crater lake

9- Activities at the crater lake
9A - Swimming (not allowed)
There are several beaches on the lakeshore of Mt. Pinatubo crater lake. The water can be cold or warm depending on the part of the lake. Swimming is prohibited since January 2013 as there is no lifeguard at the crater lake.
pinatubo tramping

9B -  Boating at Pinatubo crater lake (currently unavailable)
One good way of exploring the other side of the crater lake is through a boat ride.
pinatubo hike
You can pay directly the boatman, the rate is Php350/person. A life vest will be provided to you and your lake adventure can start.
kayaking on pinatubo lake
The ride will take 15 minutes one way and will take you to the other side of the lake. The beach there is long and with much less crowd. It has the best view over the crater lake. Actually, this is the only place where you can see the entire crater. Only on this part of the lake-shore, volcanic activities can be seen with some steams and bubbling water.  Make sure to never go close to the walls as there are landslide and rock falls. After exploring this side of the crater lake, your boat will take you back to your starting point (another 15 minute-ride.) All in all, the whole trip takes around 1 hour.


Post Pinatubo hike activities at the Pinatubo spa town (currently closed)

After you're done with your Pinatubo trek, reward yourself with some pampering. The Pinatubo Spa Town offers massage services to soothe your aching muscles – full body massage, volcanic ash spa and mud pool. Set in a lush oriental-looking garden, the Pinatubo Spa Town provides a relaxing atmosphere for those who just came back from mount Pinatubo or for those who simply want to enjoy some greenery.

Volcanic ash spa


Spend overnight at the base camp

It is now possible to sleep at the base camp. We have a basic facility there. Check our accommodation here.

You may also want to check our Training tips and how to prepare for a hike